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How I got the shotShowcase

2023 Showcase Winner: Mark Drawbridge

By February 21, 2023No Comments
An occupied spider's web casts an iridescent glow as light from the setting sun is refracted by the web. Encinitas, California, 2023 Showcase Best in Category, Macro/Micro/All Other © Mark Drawbridge

Rainbow Spider, Encinitas, California , 2023 Showcase Best in Category, Macro/Micro/All Other © Mark Drawbridge

Best in Category: Macro/Micro/All Other

Why is this photo special?

This photograph was taken in my backyard in April of 2020, just after the start of the COVID lockdown. So, it was an unprecedented time filled with anxiety and uncertainty. Fortunately, I had my family for support and entertainment and vice versa. For them, I am sure that watching me get so excited about photographing this spider was entertaining!

This scene presented itself spontaneously as we were sitting at our outdoor patio table late in the day (likely enjoying a fresh margarita!). As the sun was setting, I caught a shimmer of light out of the corner of my eye as a spider web was uniquely illuminated. I grabbed my camera and began to take a series of images before the light faded. In addition to the special memory of enduring those early months with family, this image reinforces two important photographic concepts for me – you don’t have to travel to exotic places to capture unique images and the light is king in photography!

The technical stuff

Canon 5D Mark III
100mm f2.8L macro lens
1/500 second, f/5.0, ISO 1250

This shot was taken in my backyard as the sun was setting. As I began to photograph it up close with a macro lens, I noticed that certain angles created an iridescent effect on the web. I shot this hand-held because there was limited space for a tripod and also I needed to move the camera at different angles fluidly. To compensate for a slight breeze, I shot on manual with a shutter speed of 1/500 sec to help freeze any motion. Keeping my ISO at 1250 (trying to stay at or under 1600), left me with an f-stop of 5.6, which captured an adequate depth of field to tell this story. Exposing for the web and spider’s brightly lit legs pushed the background into darkness. I also shot over two hundred images spanning 25 minutes to capture various natural light conditions and a selection of sharp images of the spider.

Photo credit: Jamie Drawbridge

About me

I live in San Diego, California. I have a full-time job, so photography for me is a great hobby and creative outlet. I have been shooting nature photography seriously for about 12 years. I enjoy all types of wildlife subjects, landscapes, and seascapes. My favorite subjects currently are landscapes and birds and mammals among wildlife. In terms of locations, I am trying to get to as many National Parks as I can. So far, Yellowstone and Yosemite are my two favorites.

I have always enjoyed being out in nature and I have a creative side, so my passion for photography developed quite organically. Although I shot traditional film in my earlier years, the digital revolution was really a catalyst for me – not only the process of capturing images, but the digital darkroom for post-processing. I think a lot of my growth as a photographer came from entering competitions early on and being persistent through rejections. Of course, the internet is a great resource for training and inspiration too. I stay interested in photography because I love the beauty of nature, learning and creating, being outdoors, and being surprised!

I have been a NANPA member for only a few years now and this year was my first time entering Showcase. I have been on several NANPA Regional Field Events, which I highly recommend!

Memorable moments

One of my most memorable moments in nature photography was winning first place in a “Nature’s Best” international juried exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum. My image was of a seascape taken locally. In addition to helping to validate the artistic quality of my work, this moment also reminds me of my late Aunt who was an artist herself and my most honest and reliable critic! Many other memorable moments have occurred in the field when either the lighting or the subject (or both) have left me in awe!

Instagram : @markdrawbridge_insta or @markdrawbridgephotography

See all of the Top 26 winning images from NANPA’s 2023 Showcase nature photography competition.

Top 26